ACCLAIMED poet, playwright, broadcaster and speaker Lemn Sissay has launched Brighton Festival 2020.

The biggest annual, curated multi-arts festival in England kicks off on May 2 and will feature more than 120 events taking place in 27 venues and locations across Brighton and beyond, from the industrial landscapes of Shoreham Port and warehouses in Hove to the suburban streets of Crawley and Moulsecoomb, theatres, community centres and cinemas in Worthing, Hangleton, East Brighton and Lewes.

Artists experimenting and creating new work are at the heart of the festival.

There will be 17 premieres, exclusives, commissions and co-productions and many festival debuts from international artists.

Lemn’s personal passions flow throughout the 2020 programme, connected by a “love of words and language across theatre, song, spoken word, art and poetry”.

Contemporary writers and poets are given a particular spotlight with several spoken word and book events including The Time Has Now Come; Lime Time, Take 5 and Vintage Poets.

Lemn’s support for new and established Ethiopian artists features prominently with appearances by Ethio-jazz legend Mulatu Astatke, contemporary pianist/composer Samuel Yirga and writers Maaza Mengiste and Aida Edemariam.

Marking the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower’s journey, a new generation of indigenous American artists take centre stage in The Young Americans, a powerful new exhibition in partnership with Rainmaker Gallery at Phoenix Art Space that reveals what it means to grow up in the contemporary United States.

Festival organisers said using art as a way to “explore our most personal experiences will offer some of the most powerful events in the festival”.

In Adopt A Nation, Lemn invites the public to adopt him in an intimate one-on-one experience that will ask participants to share their own thoughts about family; and his best-selling memoir My Name Is Why is discussed in conversation with British-Eritrean writer Hannah Azieb Pool.

As always, the festival will include free and participatory events for all ages, abilities and incomes – more than 100 events are free or cost £10 or less to attend and the Pay It Forward scheme will offer free ticket vouchers to community organisations.

Tickets for members on sale now.